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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Labour launch campaign against 'Tory tax credit cuts'

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Seema Malhotra, has officially launched Labour’s 'Stop the Tax Credits Cuts campaign, against Tory cuts' which the House of Commons Library estimates will lead to an average £1,300 cut in the annual income of around 3.2 million families, including 2.7 million families with 5.2 million children in them, if they come into effect as planned in April 2016.

Commenting on the Tax Credit Cut proposals, Ms Malhotra said: "David Cameron, George Osborne and the rest of the Tory MPs who voted for these pernicious cuts to the incomes of millions of hard-working families throughout out the UK should be ashamed of themselves. Over the next weeks and months Labour will be taking its campaign to stop to Stop the Tax Credit Cuts to high streets and homes across the UK. If George Osborne doesn’t back down we will make sure that the millions of those low and middle income families know exactly who is to blame for the savage cuts that will hit them next April.”

Data supplied by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) shows that more than 2.7m working families will have their family incomes fall, with some losing as much as £3,000 a year next April if the cuts are implemented as planned. In George Osborne’s July Budget, he announced changes to the tax credit taper and threshold, a move that will see £4.4 billion cut to the income of 3.2 million low to middle income families across the UK. In the same Budget he announced that he was cutting inheritance tax for the most wealthy.

Despite claims by both Osborne and Cameron that those affected will be better off not worse after the tax credits cuts, the IFS have also confirmed that it is “arithmetically impossible” for the Government’s so called “National Living Wage” to make up for these losses.

The real impacts of these cuts on hardworking families are shown by the following three case studies*:

Sarah from Gateshead

33 year-old Sarah and her 32-year old husband Paul (not their real names) both work for Tesco. He works 37 hours per week whilst she works 20 hours per week. They have two daughters aged 5 and 1. Natalie only recently returned to work after the birth of their second child. The proposed changes to tax credits will mean that they could lose £1450 a year.

Sarah says: “These proposed cuts really frighten us. My husband and I were both made redundant during the financial crash and were lucky to get other jobs. We took what we could find - so we don’t work as close to home as we would want but we need a job and wanted to work. Financially, things are already tight having had our tax credits cut this year. But losing almost £150 a month more from the family income is going to mean big changes. We already have little left at the end of the month; we are going to have to cut back on everything. I’m really worried that when interest rates go up, on top of these changes, we could lose our girls’ home.”

Gordon from Dundee

43 year-old Gordon from Dundee has worked for 15 years in a call-centre. He works 36 hours a week. Gordon has two daughters, aged 8 and 4, and a son, aged 6. His wife has been forced to stop working as a class room assistant because of multiple sclerosis. His oldest daughter has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The proposed changes to tax credits will mean his family could lose £2,300 a year.

Gordon says: “These cuts will make an already difficult financial situation for us even worse. We’ll have to cut back on the food we buy and clothes for the kids – even then I don’t know how we will manage. It doesn’t bear thinking about. I work hard and want to keep doing so – but these proposed cuts will mean will penalise me and my family.”

Elaine from Caerphilly

37 year-old Elaine and her 34 month old son live in Hengoed, near Caerphilly in South Wales. She works 16 hours a week which allows her to work and manage child care for Jackson. She works in retail for Tesco. The proposed cuts will mean that she will see her tax credits cut by £1,260 a year.

Elaine says: “Right now every penny I earn is already accounted for. I know how much I can spend on food, how much I can spend on gas and electricity. Since Jackson arrived, I haven’t bought myself one new item of clothing - every spare penny is spent on him, as he grows so quickly. He is my priority. If what I receive in tax credits is cut by more than £1,200, I just don’t know how I’ll manage. The only way I think I’ll be able to get by is by cutting back on heating electricity by sitting in the dark and in the cold. I might be able to cut down on the grocery bill if I skip meals to make sure that my son has food.”

*These case studies come from the Labour party and are not independently verified. 

Greens criticise 'dogs dinner' policy on carrier bags

From tomorrow, Monday 5 October 2015, large shops in England will have to charge five pence for all single use carrier bags they provide. In 2013, the major supermarkets in England gave out over 7.4 billion plastic bags – that’s 133 bags for every person. Small retailers don’t have to charge but can do so on a voluntary basis.

Baroness Jenny Jones who is also a Green member of London Assembly has repeatedly argued that in line with all other UK regions, a cross-party unanimous view of the London Assembly, trade bodies for small retailers, the charge should apply to all retailers, irrespective of their size.

Commenting on the Government's proposals Jenny Jones AM said: "Seven years after England had the power to charge for single use carrier bags and tens of billions of plastic bags later, it is with relief that the Government has finally brought in this desperately needed and overdue charge that all the evidence shows will drastically reduce their use and the environmental mayhem they cause."

Criticising the Government's exemption for small businesses Jenny Jones said: "However, the Government’s exemption for smaller retailers with a voluntary code is exactly the opposite of the universal plastic bag charge they wanted. This 'dogs dinner' policy will mean more headaches and administrative confusion for small businesses".

Monday, 21 September 2015

Lib Dems: 16-year-olds 'should vote' in the EU ref

Members at the Liberal Democrat annual Party Conference in Bournemouth have voted to allow 16 year olds to vote in the upcoming EU Referendum. The motion they've passed after a 'considered debate' urges the Conservative Government to lower the voting age for the 2017 poll.

The Liberal Democrats say that a 'Brexit' would change the face of Britain for decades to come and the party believe these young people deserve a say in the future of their country. It follows a long-held party policy to allow 16 year olds to vote in all local, regional and national elections, along with success of extending the vote in the Scottish Referendum.

Commenting on the new policy, Liberal Democrat spokesperson Sarah Ludford said: "An EU exit would fundamentally change our country for years to come and deeply impact on young people, especially on their job prospects."

Ms Ludford continued: "A 16 year old in Britain can get married, pay tax and join the army, so why on earth should they not be allowed to take part in a decision that greatly affects them? Liberal Democrats believe staying in the EU gives us the best chance of future peace, tackling climate change and keeping our economy strong."

"We also believe in people. So it is time 16 and 17 year olds are given a say on the future of Britain." Sarah Ludford added.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Met appeal for identity of man allegedly involved in the City Hall incident on Wednesday

Metropolitan Police Officers appealing for information to identify a man following an assault on a security guard at City Hall on Wednesday morning, 16 September have today issued CCTV footage of the incident. The moving footage, from approximately 10:50hrs, shows a group of protestors forcing their way into City Hall. 

One man, who is described as white, around 50 years old and 6ft tall, can be clearly seen pushing the security guard, before turning and going in a different direction. The injured security guard was knocked unconscious, and taken by the London Ambulance Service to hospital where he was treated for concussion and released later that day.

Image of the man the Met Police want to speak to

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Barnes, from the Public Order Investigating Team, said: "I am appealing for information to trace the man seen in the footage we have released today. Someone will recognise him and I am asking them to come forward. The footage shows the level of violence used, which is unacceptable."

The man had a partly shaved head and a receding hairline. He was wearing black leather trousers and a black leather motorcycle jacket with a light brown stripe on the arms. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Met's Public Order Crime Unit on 020 8246 0068. If you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Lib Dems announce Caroline Pidgeon for 2016

The Liberal Democrats today announced Caroline Pidgeon, who is a member of the London Assembly, as the party's candidate for the 2016 London Mayoral election. Ms Pidgeon was the only nominated candidate but under the Liberal Democrat's rules London party members had to vote on whether to accept Ms Pidgeon as their candidate or to reopen nominations. The London Lib Dems endorsed her as their candidate and today the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon said she would fight for a London which served the many, and not the few.

Caroline Pidgeon
image courtesy of the Liberal Democrats

Commenting on her selection as Lib Dem candidate and what she sees as the problems in London Caroline Pidgeon said: “London is a great city, but the huge potential it offers is not available to everyone. We need to tackle the brain drain to London's economy caused by too many women not returning to work in part due to the high cost of childcare. We also need to end the scandal of too many young people struggling to rent, let alone buy a property. Unless we tackle these barriers London will continue to be a city that serves the few, not the many."

The Liberal Democrats say that Caroline Pidgeon’s campaign will focus on:
  • Supply of housing to meet demand and the scandal of high rents
  • Flexibility and affordability of childcare
  • Air pollution
  • Transport fares that meet modern day lifestyles

Ms Pidgeon said: “London is also a city with a shameful record of air pollution which particularly affects the health of children and older Londoners, sending thousands of people each year to an early grave. It is a privilege to be selected as the Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate and to head up our London election campaign for the Mayor and London Assembly."

"Now more than ever we need to stand up for liberal values and ensure that we deliver a Liberal London where we welcome people fleeing persecution, embrace the huge advantages of being part of the EU and ensure that each and every citizen is treated equally." Caroline Pidgeon added.

Green candidate Sian Berry took to twitter to Congratulate Caroline Pidgeon, being confirmed as Liberal Democrat candidate for London 2016. Saying she is "looking forward to some serious, Boris-free debates coming up" during next years election campaign.

Confirmed candidates for 2016 so far are:
  • Sian Berry - Green
  • George Galloway - Respect
  • Lindsey Garrett - Something New
  • Sadiq Khan - Labour
  • Caroline Pidgeon - Liberal Democrat
  • Roselind Readhead - Ban private cars in London
  • Upkar Singh Rai - National Liberal 
  • Yanek Zylinski - Independent (anti-UKIP)
Although not confirmed, it is widely expected that the Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith will be the Tory candidate. UKIP are also yet to confirm their candidate and have ten candidates interested in the role including the party's Deputy Chairperson Suzanne Evans and Winston McKenzie who stood for mayor in 2008 as an Independent. Alan Craig who also stood in 2008 fir Christian People's Alliance is also trying to be the UKIP candidate.

Siobhan Benita who was an Independent candidate in 2012 and beat both the British National Party and the UK Independence party has yet to decide whether to have another crack at running in 2016. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

list of questioners for PMQs

Order paper for PMQs:

1, Gordon Henderson - Sittingbourne and Sheppey: If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 16 September?
- Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn - Islington North
2, Mr Ronnie Campbell - Blyth Valley
- Leader of the Third Party Angus Robertson - Moray
Kate Hollern - Blackburn

Daniel Zeichner - Cambridge
Julian Knight - Solihull
Michael Tomlinson - Mid Dorset and North Poole
Mrs Sharon Hodgson - Washington and Sunderland West
Tom Blenkinsop - Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland
Graham Evans - Weaver Vale
Andrew Griffiths - Burton
Maggie Throup - Erewash
Steven Paterson - Stirling
Kevin Hollinrake - Thirsk and Malton
Tom Pursglove - Corby
Mr Andrew Turner - Isle of Wight

Others 'bobbing' MPs will be selected at Speaker Bercow's discretion 

Scottish National Party (SNP)

Monday, 14 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn's new Labour Shadow Cabinet

Announcing his new Shadow Cabinet team Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pointed out that this is the first, Labour, Shadow Cabinet of which the majority are women, with 16 women and 15 men members. Although none of the 'great offices of state' are shadowed by women.

The Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet, appointed earlier in the summer, has 12 women and 10 men. The new Labour Shadow Cabinet is:

  • Leader of the Opposition & Leader of the Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn 
  • Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Party Chair and Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office: Tom Watson 
  • Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills: Angela Eagle 
  • Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: John McDonnell
  • Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Seema Malhotra
  • Shadow Home Secretary: Andy Burnham
  • Shadow Foreign Secretary: Hilary Benn
  • Opposition Chief Whip: Rosie Winterton
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Health: Heidi Alexander
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Education: Lucy Powell 
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Owen Smith 
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Defence: Maria Eagle
  • Shadow Lord Chancellor, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice: Lord Falconer of Thoroton
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Shadow Minister for the Constitutional Convention: Jon Trickett
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: Lisa Nandy
  • Shadow Leader of the House of Commons: Chris Bryant
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Transport: Lilian Greenwood
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Vernon Coaker
  • Shadow Secretary of State for International Development: Diane Abbott
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland: Ian Murray
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: Nia Griffith
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Kerry McCarthy
  • Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities: Kate Green
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport: Michael Dugher
  • Shadow Minister for Young People & Voter Registration: Gloria De Piero
  • Shadow Minister for Mental Health: Luciana Berger
  • Shadow Leader of the House of Lords: Baroness Smith of Basildon
  • Lords Chief Whip: Lord Bassam of Brighton
  • Shadow Attorney General: Catherine McKinnell
  • Shadow Minister without Portfolio: Jonathan Ashworth
  • Shadow Minister for Housing & Planning: John Healey

In another announcement the former Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will, the Labour party say, continue her work on bringing together councils, faith groups, and community groups to respond to the refugee crisis. She will chair Labour’s task force on refugees.

Commenting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "We have delivered a unifying, dynamic, inclusive new Shadow Cabinet which for the first time ever has a majority of women. I am delighted that we have established a Shadow Cabinet position for mental health which is a matter I have long been interested in. Angela Eagle’s appointment as the Shadow First Secretary of State means she will deputise for me when David Cameron is not available for Prime Minister’s Questions."

"The Shadow Cabinet is a strong combination of change and continuity that will now come together to hold this government to account, starting today with this pernicious Trade Union Bill." Mr Corbyn added.